Pot activists to light up on Hill

ALTHIA RAJ, NATIONAL BUREAU

, Last Updated: 12:59 PM ET

OTTAWA - Potheads and marijuana activists are expected to spark up on Parliament Hill tomorrow for the annual 4:20 celebration.

Activists are calling on the federal government to decriminalize weed, but Canada's Marijuana Party leader Blair Longley said he has no plans to attend.

"Those things are counterproductive," he said. "It's like putting on a public relations show that will backfire. The vast majority of people who will show up will only reinforce the stereotype."

Timothy Robinson and his friends are renting a bus from Arnprior, Ont., to ferry people to Parliament Hill.

The 20-year-old plans to make the point that pot is healthier than cigarettes, but he's also coming to enjoy weed out in the open.

"Smoking is something we all do hidden, but once a year we smoke it together and enjoy it with one another," Robinson wrote to Sun Media through Facebook.

Ottawa Police Staff Sgt. Uday Jaswal said officers will use their discretion, but they can confiscate drugs or lay criminal charges. Events are planned across the country -- in Edmonton, tokers will meet in front of the Alberta legislature, in Toronto, they'll be at College Park.

But the largest turnout is expected on the West Coast, where thousands assembled at the Vancouver Art Gallery last year.

"It's like going to the circus," said 19-year-old Alannah Berard-Schwieger from Edmonton.

"There is no fighting, people are nice and happy."

Steven Hager, the creative director of High Times magazine which popularized the term 4:20, said the idea of celebrating on April 20 dates back to 1971.

The "code" achieved folklore status after a group of high school students in Marin County, Calif., agreed to meet at 4:20 to look for an "abandoned pot patch," he said.

It's not clear if they found any weed, but they started using the term 4:20 as a code and that has since sparked spontaneous ceremonies on April 20.

Hager said he popularized 4:20 as a time of day when he started using it for all of High Times' events.

"It's not so early to interfere with the most important working period of your day. And it's late enough, that I think it's appropriate.

"It's like tea time," said Hager.

Tea time or not, the B.C Marijuana Party expects to attract 2,000 people to march on May 2 to the Vancouver Convention Centre, where the federal Liberal Party will be holding its policy convention.

"We will be encouraging them to vote favourably on a marijuana decriminalization resolution," said organizer Jacob Hunter.

ALTHIA.RAJ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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